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Probable Cause and Search Warrants in Illinois

 Posted on November 22, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Chicago criminal defense attorneyA large number of criminal cases—particularly those involving illicit drugs or illegal firearms—hinge on the evidence seized by law enforcement during searches. A police search of your property, including your home or car, with very few exceptions, requires one of two things: your voluntary consent or a properly obtained search warrant issued by a judge. It is almost never a good idea for you to allow a warrantless search of your property to proceed. At the same time, if the police have obtained a search warrant, you must be careful not to interfere with the search.

How Is a Search Warrant Issued?

According to the Illinois Constitution and Criminal Code, a search warrant can be issued by a judge on the basis of probable cause. Unlike many other states, Illinois allows a warrant to be issued “upon the written complaint of any person under oath or affirmation.” This means that a judge does not need to wait for a sworn affidavit from a law enforcement officer. Any private citizen can provide a sworn statement that identifies the person and/or place that should be searched and things that should be seized.

Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause

To the lay person, the terms “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” may sound very similar. In a court of law, however, they are very different. Probable cause, as it pertains to a search warrant, means there are sufficient facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the intended search would find contraband or evidence of criminal activity in the specified location. These facts must be able to be articulated by the person making the complaint; a search warrant will not be issued on the basis of a guess or a hunch.

Reasonable suspicion, by comparison, is not a standard that is used in allowing or conducting searches. A police officer is allowed to stop and detain person briefly if, in the officer’s trained opinion, there is reason to believe the person is engaging or has engaged in criminal activity. Where probable cause uses the standard of a “reasonable person,” reasonable suspicion uses the standard of a “reasonable law enforcement officer.” During a detainment on the basis of reasonable suspicion, the officer may learn articulable facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the individual has committed a crime. This could give the officer probable cause on which to base an arrest of the individual or the request of a search warrant.

Protect Your Rights

If the police have asked for your consent to search your property, refuse the search and contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at Luisi Legal Group. We can help you understand your options and will remain at your side, fighting to protect your rights. Call 773-276-5541 for a free consultation today.






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